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Ideas requested: fluffy scene for Psyker choosing his Discipline


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#1 Lone Pilgrim

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 12:17 PM

Good evening folks,

 

my group's psyker is about to choose his Discipline for Major Powers the next session, and I'd like to play a short "fluff" scene with him instead of simply having him throw firebolts all of a sudden (my players like their little single threads).

However, I seem to be a bit uncreative these days, probably due to winter blues, and nothing really ftting comes to mind. I've had some vague ideas, but nothing yet that I deem worthy of fleshing out.

 

I'd think that considering the power and responsibility that comes with wielding major powers, finding out what Discipling a Neonate is leaning towards should be some kind of ritual, a sombre and intimidating at that, and probably involve senior psykers from all disciplines, but beyond that, I'm kind of at a loss...

So if anyone has a spontanious idea or could point me to a source of inspiration, I'd be very grateful.

 

I've loosely incorporated the coven system from this darkreign post http://darkreign.org...lixis21-11-2013, and my Psyker has between missions been tutored for the time being by a very thorough and strict Biomancer who is not above punishing wrong answers with the occasional bio-lightning. So, yes, he is used to being treated harshly.

 

Thank you very much in advance, my flat-lining mind appreciates it!


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#2 Lynata

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 12:40 PM

Hmmh, what you're suggesting is interesting.

 

Perhaps it may pay off to look how other IPs propose the evaluation of their own "caster" roles and then give it a 40k spin? Mages in D&D or Dragon Age, Jedi in Star Wars, and so on.

 

The background in 40k is very fluid when it comes to such details, and as such the following should certainly not be regarded as a necessary inclusion, but I do recall Black Library's Inquisition illustrated guide referencing a psychic testing scale of greek characters called "The Assignment" that aims to categorise any and all psykers by their potency. Assuming that these tests are carried out when a psyker is first picked up by a Black Ship, it may seem natural that such a preliminary analysis would also note any special aptitudes a psyker has displayed regarding one of the psychic disciplines, and these records could be pulled for advanced training later on.

 

In other words, perhaps the necessary tests regarding their "path" have been done a long time ago, and now it would be more a question of determining whether they are mentally ready to "unlock" the full potential of their mind? This could involve physically and psychologically painful tests (torture? psychic probing by a senior adept?) aimed at exploring the limits of their willpower to ensure they are capable of wielding these powers, before they are shown how to do so. A more serious/painful version of what they had to endure back when they were first tested on the Black Ships to determine whether they can be left alive or are to be condemned as a Throne Sacrifice, if you will.


current 40k RPG character: Captain Elias, Celestial Lions Tactical Marine   
previous characters: Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader frigate Artemisia)

#3 Cogniczar

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 03:00 PM

LP, 

 

are you running this game via PbP or by Live Session? Depending on the answer, i'll shot you a few ideas.



#4 Lone Pilgrim

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 01:35 AM

@Cogniczar, I'll be playing live, assuming I got you right, cos I don't know what PbP means. Me and my players will be sitting in our kitchen with dim light and atmospheric music playing ;)

 

@Lynata: hmmmm that's a very interesting idea, having him just unlock the skills instead of choosing them (considering the player has already made his choice anyway). I never thought of that! Also, very good hint to "bastardize" other coming of age rites.
Funny enought the idea correlates with what I thought up being half-asleep last night: having him drugged by his coven so he's hallucinating and has to face something that horrifies him, only being able to get out /survive if he manages to come clean with himself, probably by unlocking his full potential. Kind of a rip-off from Dragon Ages's Harrowing and Luke Skywalker's vision in the swamp, but what the heck, we loved those, too.

 

Since he did not provide me with detailed backstory for the character (sigh...), I thought of slapping on him a repressed memory of the awakening of his powers, something he does not remember but that nevertheless causes him trouble (like unintentionnally killing some of his shipmates / friends / loved ones or whatnot). You know, facing that which he feared most all of his life (himself and his powers). No idea how to cast that in game terms, though ^^


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#5 Lynata

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 08:24 AM

Coming up with a bit of background for your player sounds good - almost like a win-win. And I'd say it's fair game that you basically "invade" the character's past with your ideas if the player has failed to provide an adequate hook himself. That being said, depending on what you're planning, a bit of coordination with the player might be advised. On the other hand ... perhaps the player would actually appreciate being surprised like this? :)

 

Shock, expulsion, hatred (against others and themselves), pain (physical and spiritual), fear ... all these are emotions you can and maybe should attempt to trigger in the character. The Harrowing might indeed be an excellent inspiration, given that demons in Dragon Age work almost the same as in 40k ... although of course for a normal psyker it'd be insane to allow a real daemon to try and corrupt him, hence the "simulation" aspect by his peers! The Inquisitorial interrogation protocol could be a useful tool here, as well.

 

No idea how to cast that in game terms, though ^^

 

This will be tricky, since (I guess) you want him to succeed (or rather, success should be a foregone conclusion), and any Tests would involve a chance of failure. That being said, perhaps you could use Test failure to apply various penalties, representing different degrees of how easy or narrowly the character passed? These effects could range from Wound loss to temporary Attribute penalties to permanent disfigurement.

 

The Tests themselves should be focused on Willpower (Fear-based?), though Toughness might be applicable in some cases (staying lucid, resisting unconsciousness and resisting physical torture) as well.

 

If you want, I can look up the Dragon Age P&P's rules for the Harrowing .. maybe it's possible to transfer bits of it into a mechanic for Dark Heresy. And/or make use of the rules of Psychic mishaps that are already in the game. :)


current 40k RPG character: Captain Elias, Celestial Lions Tactical Marine   
previous characters: Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader frigate Artemisia)

#6 Librarian Astelan

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 08:49 AM

I'd let him start a psychic ritual. Once in trance, I'd describe certain aspects of his mind (the disciplines), perhaps with a willpower check to let your player manifest a power in this dream. Of course, I'd also add an extra aspect - let's call it chaos - that the player briefly encounters and then, if he is an Emperorloving citizen, dismisses...

 

You could use the willpower tests to let the player pick his specialty (but this could interfere with the player's own choice).


Edited by Librarian Astelan, 17 February 2014 - 08:53 AM.


#7 Lone Pilgrim

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 03:00 PM

Aaaaaalright.... thanks for your input everyone so far, you're being very supportive! (is that the right word....?)

Sorry for the following wall of text, I really tried to make it as short as possible.

@Librarian: That was kind of what I initially envisioned, but since I know that the player already settled for Pyromancy, I'd think it futile to even have him make a Test on any other Discipline. But it will definitely be some kind of psychic ritual, and there will definitely be an emphasis on the different possibilities of solving a problem (i.e. Disciplines). I like the aspect of Chaos though, that's brilliant.

@Lynata: If you would have a mind to look up those Harrowing rules, that would be immensely helpful!
Acutally having him fail that test would not be that much of a problem. For various ingame reasons, my inquisitor is extremely protective of said psyker and would not under any circumstance have his life endangered, even if it means blemishing his own reputation (sounds weird, but makes sense in the chronicle). So even if he'd fail, I'd have the cavalry ride in and save his ass - that would even be conducive to my evil plans ^^
As for enforcing backstory on him, I did ask him beforehand and according to his total lack of reaction, he does not mind me surprising him, so I won't hold back.

So, from the input you've kindly given me so far I'd concoct something like this.

Silvanus undergoes the Tentatio Delectis, the Trial of Choosing. The point of that trial is to unlock the hidden potential within the Neonate, a source of power poetically called "that which is at bottom of one's heart". Since my psyker seems to lean towards Pryomancy, I'd guess the emotion that fuels his powers would be RAGE (not too uncommon in 40k philosophy...). That would actually add a nice contradiction to the character, for the player depicts him VERY composed and disciplined, almost inhumanly so.

So, to that end, he has to take part in a rite conducted by the elders of his coven - I have those already fleshed out - each one representing one Psychic Discipline. Probably intimidating and very much reminding of the suffering inflicted on him on Earth. He is required to ingest a potent hallucinogenic that puts him into a trance, loosely steered by the attendant Telepath. In the ensuing lucid dream he might be able to manifest a power of each Discipline and he might briefly brush with Chaos as well.
When the dream moves on, he will find himself on his home vessel, the Obsidian Edge, and encounter his Alter Ego, that forgotten part of him that dwells on the past and can't let go because Silvanus has completey supressed that memory and the pain that goes with it (that fits with the reoccurring subtheme of the chronicle, the "Enemy Within"). He will be forced to witness and relive what has transpired that fateful day he was exiled from his home, all the while being whispered to by the ghost that is him, who tries to coax from him the anger he hides so well by being REALLY mean and twisting the knife in the wound.

What could have happened? What could trigger a latent psyker's powers to emerge, preferably in a destructive fashion? Whatever it is, it will hopefully cause some raw nerves on my pyker turning the tension between him and the dream-self into hostility. Since the Alter Ego represents all the undealt with, the trauma inflicted on Silvanus by the awakening of his gift, it needs to be defeated, so let's escalate from emotional cruelty to "physical".

Hm... I guess I could let Silvanus fight with the temporary illusionary powers at his disposal, making the enemy really hard and wearing him down until he is almost defeated and frustrated enough to reach for that anger smoldering inside him, enabling him to consume his opponent in whitehot psi-flame... You know... "use your rage" XD

Well, that would be what comes to mind (it's quite late here, yawn), so if you have any comments/ideas, I'd be happy to hear them. Thx!

 


In war, victory. In peace, vigilance. In death, sacrifice.


#8 Lone Pilgrim

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 03:30 PM

hm, I just got back from bed, being half-asleep seems to be beneficial to thinking :blink:

Maybe the awakening of Silvanus powers had something to do with him going frenzy, causing a fire in the process and dooming some of his shipmates to death by flame, so that's why he tries to avoid that kind of emotion. Given that, conjuring fire in the first part of the ritual would of course not work ~evil grin~

I could give him bonuses for his Pyromancy rolls in the fight, the more battered he gets, the higher the bonus - i.e. the more he faces his anger, damn the consequences, the better his chances of winning get.


In war, victory. In peace, vigilance. In death, sacrifice.


#9 Lynata

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 07:25 PM

@Lynata: If you would have a mind to look up those Harrowing rules, that would be immensely helpful!

 

Okay, sooo ...

 

The Harrowing is basically a mage's spirit being stuck in the Fade for 2d6 minutes, their physical form remaining helpless and vulnerable in the meantime (during a proper Circle Harrowing with a Templar standing above them, ready to kill them the moment the mage shows signs of possession). The longer the mage remains in the Fade, however, the greater the chance of encountering and being possessed by a daemon. The game represents this by demanding a TN 13 (Challenging) Willpower test for every 2 minutes. If the character fails, they turn into an Abomination. gg wp, better luck next time. :P

 

I suppose if one were to use this as inspiration, rolling for the time the character spends being "at risk" is not a bad idea, especially when combined with a series of Willpower Tests.

 

Perhaps ... you could set the test at 2d5 hours (rolled in secret), with every 2 hours forcing a Willpower Test. Doesn't matter if he fails once or twice, just let him keep rolling. Using Fate Points is allowed. At the end, count the failed Tests and come up with a reminder of how harsh this experience was?

 

Off the top of my head:

Failed 1x: Temporary Fellowship reduction by -5

Failed 2x: As above, plus player's pick of either 1d5 Corruption Points or 1d10 Insanity Points

Failed 3x or more: Permanent Fel reduction by -5, gets both 1d5 CP and 1d10 IP. Would be considered a drop-out. This is where your Inquisitor comes to the rescue.

 

To soften the permanent Attribute loss you could perhaps give him some bonus XP, representing a sort of "what does not kill us makes us stronger" kind of experience.


Edited by Lynata, 17 February 2014 - 07:36 PM.

current 40k RPG character: Captain Elias, Celestial Lions Tactical Marine   
previous characters: Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader frigate Artemisia)

#10 Lone Pilgrim

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 01:25 AM

during a proper Circle Harrowing with a Templar standing above them, ready to kill them the moment the mage shows signs of possession
 

 

Gee, I love the DA Mages ^^

 

That system sounds cool... though it reminds me more of the actual Sanctioning Rite - which PC psykers have already undergone in most cases. Mental note: next chronicle start have the psyker PLAY his Sanctioning XD

At this stage they should have fairly proven that they can resist the Immaterium, and since he's kind of trapped in his own dream, having him encounter daemons seems inappropriate (also, I'll have to be careful with overusing daemons, since one of them plays a major role further down the road).

 

However, rolling WP for him the longer it takes him is an excellent idea, as is punishing failure with insanity and corruption points, I'd have completely forgotten about that!. I'll even ramp up the difficulty over time methinks, and throw in a lot of penalties at the end (let him work for his imba powers ~whiplash~).

 

If any of you might have a crisp idea on what could have happened to include a teenager, fire, anger and the awakening od psychic powers, that would be a bonus ;)

 

Other than that, thank you very much everyone! I'll get to work tonight (oh curse you, real-life work!) and tell you how it turned out in play after the coming weekend :)


In war, victory. In peace, vigilance. In death, sacrifice.


#11 Librarian Astelan

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 03:36 PM

I find it difficult to give you appropriate options without knowing the PC's background, but here goes:

Perhaps he worked/passed through a major forge complex (molten metal or magma as energy source) and somehow got a connection with the heat, resulting in a spontaneous psychic manifestation (melting a piece of equipment) and thus causing a major industrial accident with dozens of victims,

Or, as a kid, living in a hive and being left in charge for his sick little brother while his parents went working (as administratum drones or other), trying to get the heating system on, but unfortunately the system was broken and in his frustration to get the room warm enough, activating his latent psychic talent thus burning down the appartment, including his brother and dozens of neighbours.

Don't know if this is what you're looking for...


Edited by Librarian Astelan, 20 February 2014 - 04:16 AM.


#12 Lone Pilgrim

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 12:46 PM

Hello everyone! Since a lot of you were so kind as to help me with this scene, I am happy to report that it went exceptionally well. I went for the "drugged experience of forgotten memories" thing, a sinister rite complete with praying and chanting (it's fun to have your players repeat what you say in unison ;)), and tied it up with some trauma about crewmates who died in an inferno unintenionally caused by my psyker's emerging powers.

My players were totally absorbed in the rite, very dense atmosphere, a wonderful sense of foreboding, they even felt like their characters are closer now, which is just the way I like it.

Only thing that did not work perfectly was the actual "boss fight": I had come up with a system to make manifesting Pyromancy powers really difficult for my psyker, and easier the more battered he got by his Alter Ego, who happened to be vulnerable to Pyromancy. But he got clobbered down so quickly and then had so much luck with the dice that the entire combat only lasted about 4 rounds. I always have that problem, either the fights drag out endlessly due to very resistant opponents that don't deal much damage, or it is over in a blink and I have to do my best not to wipe out my cell...

But, oh well, the point came across and we had a fun session, so thanks a lot everyone!


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In war, victory. In peace, vigilance. In death, sacrifice.





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